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Friday, April 11, 2014

Overzealous Prosecution, Not Marijuana Could Get NorCal Teen Deported

Posted By on Fri, Apr 11, 2014 at 2:00 PM

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Wingnuts are frothing at the mouth today over the plight of a Northern California teenager, whose life is seriously fucked up right now, thanks to a marijuana charge.

The possible deportation of Saira Munoz "back home" to Mexico is in headlines across the world, with the New York Daily News and UK Daily Mail picking up her story: short of cash for a prom dress, the 18-year-old Yuba City high school senior tried to make money by selling pot brownies.

The restaurant worker sold some to a friend, who sold some to other people -- one of whom went to the hospital after eating a "small piece" and freaking out. That brought in the cops, who arrested her in March 2013.

She could have done two years in jail... "for marijuana," it was breathlessly reported by local television news (in full-on, melodramatic Anchorman-like style).

Instead -- before she was reported to immigration officials -- the local District Attorney charged her with a felony. There's so much wrong here, but that's where the wrong began.

A call to the Sutter County District Attorney's Office was not immediately returned. Based on what's been reported, though, it's clear that Munoz had the book thrown at her.

Marijuana distribution for sale is a felony under California law. However, prosecutors are allowed to make deals with defendants, who can plead out to lesser charges. A young person (she was 18) on a first-time offense is generally offered a deal.

Instead, since Munoz sold the brownies to another person (who was under 18) who then made more sales, she did nine days in jail before she pleaded no contest to a felony on Feb. 7, her hometown paper the Appeal-Democrat reported.

Copping a felony for slanging a few hundred dollars' worth of pot food is unheard of.

Even more insane are the consequences. Munoz has been in the United States, legally, since 2000. In other words, since she was a little kid. Now her residency is in "jeopardy" after the Sutter County Probation Department reported her to immigration officials.

The Supreme Court last year ruled that a simple possession charge isn't grounds for deportation. Felony distribution, and the added nail in the coffin of providing drugs to a minor (even if it's an 18 year old giving it to a 15-year-old friend) make this different.

Anti-marijuana people around the country are having a field day with this one, as a brief scan of the comments sections of the numerous reports on her show. But the media is also to blame for this.

A local television report said that Munoz could be "sent home."

This story has it all: Race-baiting, immigrant-baiting, teens and marijuana.

What Munoz did was illegal and not particularly smart. However, selling small amounts of weed to make a little money is something countless of students in high school and college do.

If Munoz is dropped off on the other side of the border for her weed scheme, that will be the real crime.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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